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Sunday, October 1, 2023

UN chief calls for global partnership to end COVID-19, climate change

UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, has called for a global partnership to end COVID-19 pandemic and address climate change, so as to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Antonio Guterres
UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres

In a video message to the opening of the 2021 P4G summit in Seoul, Republic of Korea, Guterres said that the world needed a global partnership to beat COVID-19 and achieve the SDGs.

The Partnering for Green Growth and the Global Goals 2030 (P4G) event aimed at boosting market-based partnerships and rally high-level political and private sector action.

It brings together Heads of State, CEOs, and civil society leaders, around a shared action agenda to mobilise investments for tangible impact.

He said that if governments embraced the goals of phasing out coal, enhancing climate commitments and investing in the global goals, there was an opportunity to rise to the biggest challenge of our lives.

Guterres expressed that although there were commitments to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, there was still much to do to close the emissions gap and achieve the SDGs.

He reaffirmed his call to all main emitters to present new Nationally Determined Contributions, commit to net zero emissions by 2050, and most importantly put in place policies and programmes towards achieving that goal.

“Tackling climate change head-on will help protect the most vulnerable people from the next crisis, while sustaining a job-rich recovery from the pandemic.’’

He said that the first priority right now was stopping plans for new coal plants and phasing-out coal use by 2040.

On that note, the secretary general commended the Government of the Republic of Korea for announcing that it would stop all international coal finance and encourage other governments and private sector entities to do the same.

Guterres also expressed concern about the finance and adaptation gaps.

He said that developed countries were yet to deliver on the $100-billion-dollar annual commitment to climate action efforts and supporting vulnerable communities that were already suffering the consequences of global warming.

He also explained that one in three people globally were still not adequately covered by early warning systems, citing the case of women and girls, who make up 80 per cent of those displaced by the climate emergency, as being often excluded from decisions to address the climate crisis.

“We urgently need a breakthrough on adaptation and resilience; we ask all donor countries to significantly enhance their financial commitments.’’

In addition, he highlighted the importance of financing the ‘infrastructure of tomorrow’ by supporting developing countries in a just transition to sustainable energy and a circular economy, while helping them to diversify their economies.

“In short, we need a global partnership for green, inclusive and sustainable development,” the UN chief said.

Guterres warned that there was no global partnership if some were left “struggling to survive” as was the case with COVID-19 and the distribution of vaccines, as well as the climate emergency.

“In this quest, the Republic of Korea is a leading partner. I commend the government for its 2050 net-zero pledge and the Korean Green New Deal,’’ he said.

By Cecilia Ologunagba

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